Manage your customer database
Choosing a supplier for your customer database system
The main decision when choosing a supplier depends on the type of solution you need. You have a number of options:
- general database software
- off-the-shelf customer databases
- application service providers
It's a good idea to try to quantify the benefits you expect to receive by improving customer relationship management. It may help to calculate how it will affect revenues, profitability and the cost of servicing customers.
Return on investment
Fundamentally, you should regard this as an investment in your business rather than a cost. The return on that investment is not just an increase in new customer sales, but satisfied customers who feel that they are being treated as individuals and are therefore more likely to buy from you again.
You may want to set a budget and carry out a cost-benefit analysis, bearing the following points in mind:
- what the cost is per user or per licence
- how many software licences you need
- if buying a product, what the cost is of updates and in-house support costs
- if renting a service from a supplier, the set-up and subscription fees
- the cost of staff training, ongoing maintenance and help-desk support
Research your options
You could also find out about the most commonly employed solutions:
- within your industry
- adopted by similar-sized businesses in other sectors
You might find it helpful to prepare a brief and request proposals from two to four potential suppliers before choosing one.
You should be prepared to invest time and money into the process and consider some questions for potential CRM suppliers.